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Cablegate: France's Societal Preferences Trade Initiative -

VZCZCXRO2423
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHFR #1868/01 2831718
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091718Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4469
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4470
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RUEHXQ/ALL EUROPEAN UNION POST
RUEHMRE/AMCONSUL MARSEILLE 2032
RUEHSR/AMCONSUL STRASBOURG 0612
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2956
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 6808

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 001868

SIPDIS

BRUSSELS PASS USEU FOR AGMINCOUNSELOR
STATE PASS USTR FOR MURPHY;
USDA/OS/SCHAFER/CONNER;
USDA/FAS FOR OA/YOST/JACKSON/ROSADO;
OCRA/SALMON/ALEXANDER/SEIDBAND;
ONA/RIEMENSCHNEIDER/YOUNG/DENNIS;
OFSO/LEE/YOUNG;
EU POSTS PASS TO AGRICULTURE AND ECON
GENEVA FOR USTR, ALSO AGRICULTURE

TAGS: ETRD EAGR SENV SOCI EU
SUBJECT: France's Societal Preferences Trade Initiative -
Discussion with "Friendlies"

REFS: (A) Paris 1085; (B) Paris 1240

PARIS 00001868 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: French initiatives to incorporate societal
preferences into European trade policy were the theme of a lunch we
hosted with agriculture, econ and commercial counterparts from
Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil, The friendlies have been
watching recent developments with concern including Ag Minister
Barnier's memorandum to the Agricultural Council (REF B). They ,
agreed that France's moves to impose socially-motivated EU
production practices resulting in elevated production costs (e.g.
animal welfare) on non-EU trading partners pose a challenge for the
the trading system. All also agreed on the need to continue the
dialogue and explore avenues for collective action. The keynote
speech at French-sponsored food safety conference several days later
underscored the seriousness with which France is advancing this
agenda. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Invitees expressed concern about France's moves to
incorporate societal choices into EU trade policy and to legitimize
their recognition into international trade standards for food and
livestock products. Australia noted that they had addressed this
concern in a 20-page agriculture advocacy document. All noted the
danger in making trade policy decisions on the basis of production
processes instead of science-based standards for the end product
itself. There was general recognition that the GOF's initiatives,
often cloaked in a mantle of superior moral authority, are a
thinly-veiled attempt to protect costly domestic production. The
group agreed that the topic should be raised more strongly with
respective governments and that the "friendlies" dialogue should
continue, with a view toward joint representations. All further
agreed to raise the issue with their representatives to
international organizations, such as the OIE and OECD, where the
subject is emerging.

3. (SBU) The attendees noted that France was effectively advocating
its position, in light of world environmental and resource
sustainability concerns. The New Zealand rep further noted that,
while she was concerned about the French initiative, many of these
societal preferences are environmentally oriented and that New
Zealand placed a high priority on environmental protection. The
parallel between legitimate and imagined SPS concerns was
discussed.

4. (SBU) The Canadian rep remarked that this is a good time to
address the issue with the Commission as its relationship with
France is not particularly amicable (and also to buy time until the
end of the French EU presidency). He suggested polling Member
States for their response to the French proposal (REF B) and
collectively approaching the Commission to express our concerns.

5. (SBU) On October 3, France hosted a conference on health risk
assessment in the context of food, animal and livestock imports into
the EU. The keynote speech, delivered by a high level Ministry of
Agriculture food safety official, focused on the French proposal,
which the French seek to have adopted before the end of their EU
presidency. The abstract from the portion of the speech addressing
societal concerns follows:

Begin Quote:

Eliminate distortions of competition and take better account of
European health standards

The Community preference consists in choices made by society in
favour of a European food and agricultural production model, such as
respecting animal welfare, or controlling health safety throughout
the food chain "from the farm to the fork". The objective is to
retain the possibility of an enlightened choice for European
consumers by ensuring them a high level of health safety. With this
in mind:
- European standards should be promoted at international level;
- Systems should be developed provide European consumers with

PARIS 00001868 002.2 OF 002


comprehensive information and to promote the specific features of
European products.

The main ambition of this strategy, one of the priorities of the
French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, is to
contribute to an ever high food safety guarantee for European
citizens in a better globalized world. It is part of a wider
approach also addressing the need to protect our environment better,
through the desired harmonization of sanitary and phytosanitary
standards for example.
To protect and promote our European food model, able to provide a
high level of safety for the consumer, this issue needs to be put
back on the agenda of discussions on international trade within the
World Trade Organization.

Encouraged by the support mustered from EU Member States, Michael
Barnier has decided to continue discussions on the issue during the
French Presidency of the Council of the European Union. He has
asked a task force to draw up more precise recommendations that may
feature in the conclusions of the Agriculture Council at the end of
the year. End Quote

6. (SBU) AgMinCouns had the opportunity to get reactions from
Italian and British reps at the conference. Both said that their
governments were skeptical about the French approach to distortions
in competition and were unlikely to back this component of the
French proposal. Both emphasized that it wasn't practical to think
that the EU could translate its social choices into international
trade policy and that they doubted the proposal would be adopted.

7. (SBU) Comment: Country team believes that Canadian idea of
polling the Member States and then approaching the Commission
collectively has some merit, particularly since there appears to be
a healthy dose of MS skepticism. We also agree that vigilance at
the various IOs is called for, especially given France's proposal to
put this topic on the WTO agenda. Further, a review of IO activities
reveals that the FAO has been actively working on subject of animal
welfare (http://www.fao.org /ag/ againfo/ home/ en/ news_archive/
2008_animalwelfare.html) and recently concluded a 2-day forum on the
subject. The OIE has a conference in Egypt later in October
(http://www.oie.int/ eng/ A_AW2008/ home.htm) at which animal
welfare is on the agenda, while the subject of societal concerns is
included in the current OECD Program of Work and Budget and has been
raised as a possible subject for discussion at the 2010 OECD
Ministerial. End Comment.


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